Learn who will be speaking at the 2024 Bridge to Success Conference!

KeyNote Speakers

Chris Ulmer

Chris Ulmer is the founder of the leading neurodiversity movement, SBSK (Special Books by Special Kids). Chris has interviewed thousands of disabled people with a diversity of diagnoses from across the world. These in-depth interviews have been viewed billions of times across social media. Chris believes that when we take the time to hear someone’s story and view life from their perspective, we learn and grow as humans, making the world a better place. Together Chris and the SBSK community are promoting conversations about acceptance and inclusion around the world.

The Power of Acceptance and Positivity I have made it my life’s mission to normalize the diversity of the human condition by showcasing how understanding, positivity, and acceptance can make a better world for all. Together, we will explore these concepts and more through my experiences with the worldwide acceptance movement, SBSK (Special Books by Special Kids). (

Alison Gauld

Alison Gauld, Senior Manager of Professional Learning and Low-Incidence Disabilities at the Tennessee Department of Education, will present key takeaways from her experience working with high schools across the state through the SPDG grant entitled Teaching ALL Students (TAS). Learn how having high expectations for students of ALL abilities can make a huge impact on school culture and student outcomes.

Breakout Presenters

Breanna Atwell

Family Engagement

Breanna Atwell is a playful spirit who is passionate about advocating for students in special education. She received a bachelor’s degree in social work at APSU and a Masters in Special Education at Lipscomb.

Meghan Burke


Meghan is a professor of special education at Vanderbilt University. She is also the parent of a child with autism and has an adult sibling with Down syndrome. Her research examines how to equip families to advocate so that their family member with a disability can access needed services.

Danielle Buse

Vanderbilt Kenny Center- TRIAD

Danielle Buse has worked for over 10 years in the field of mental health and behavior. Danielle earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, and a secondary Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis. Before becoming a Behavior Analyst, Danielle worked as a therapist for children with and without disabilities. In her professional work, Danielle has worked in a variety of settings such as hospitals, residential facilities, and non-public school. She has spent most of her career working in school settings in a variety of roles focused on trauma-informed care. Danielle is committed to providing students a space that that promotes safety and engagement across the lifespan.

Susan Carr

The Arc TN's Family Engagement Project

Susan a former Special Education teacher with a focus in transition. Her oldest daughter has complex needs and her experience in the Special Education process led Susan to her current work.

Laura Casey

University of Memphis

Laura Casey is a professor of special education and applied behavior analysis (ABA) in the College of Education at the University of Memphis. To date, she has over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles related to assessment, early intervention, mental and behavioral health, coping and resiliency in parents, and teacher readiness. She is the co- author of a leading book in early childhood and ABA, Applied Behavior Analysis in Early Childhood Education: An Introduction to Evidence-based Interventions and Teaching Strategies, has many book chapters, and over 100 conference presentations. In addition to scholarship and research endeavors, she maintains clinical certifications as a national board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), nationally certified counselor (NCC), and nationally certified school psychologist (NCSP).

Jeanne Crocker

WorkAble TN

Ms. Jeanne Crocker has extensive experience advocating for and with individuals with disabilities. She is passionate about problem solving with individuals who are unserved and underserved to achieve their chosen career goals. She has worked in her present role as a Benefits Analyst (BA) with WorkAble TN for ten (10) years facilitating informational presentations. Jeanne also worked in the role of Advocate for the Tennessee Disability Coalition for ten (10) years. Prior she worked at the Tennessee Department of Health in the Child’s Special Services Program as a supervisor of case managers. Jeanne holds a B.A. degree in Sociology.

Lorrie Crockett

Tennessee Assistive Technology Project

Lorrie worked as a special education teacher for years before transitioning to assistive technology. She worked as an AT specialist for a technology access project for 21 years before joining the Tennessee AT project in 2023.

Dr. Jessica Dainty

Department of Education

Dr. Jessica Dainty has almost 15 years of experience in public education. She has worked as a special educator, an interventionist, and a consulting teacher. She currently serves as the Statewide Dyslexia Coordinator for the TN Department of Education in the division of Special Education and Intervention Programs.

Adele Dunkin

University of Tennessee Health Science Center, University of Tennessee

Adele is a multiply-neurodivergent SLP with over 10 years of experience supporting autistic children. Committed to trauma-informed and neuroaffirming practice, she conducts autism diagnostics at UTHSC and teaches graduate courses on autism at University of Memphis, and serves of the board of The Arc Tennessee. At home, she is honored to raise two autistic children. (This is more than 30 words, but I’m really terrible at conciseness, and ChatGPT failed me. Feel free to edit if selected.)

Stacia Evans-Wilson, MS, BCBA

Shaping Positive Behaviors

Stacia Evans-Wilson is a Licensed Special Education Teacher, Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), Licensed Behavior Analyst in Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia, Texas, and Oklahoma. As a mother of a child with autism spectrum disorder, she is passion about spreading literature and the use of evidence-based interventions.  Her 10 years of experience in the field as a teacher, behavior therapist, and direct support professional gives her a unique experience that allows her to successfully direct programs and implement behavior change in the most effective and efficient ways.

Annette Graves

The Arc TN's Family Engagement Project

Annette is passionate about education and helping to empower children and adults. Annette is active in the disability community helping her brother who has an intellectual disability and her granddaughter who’s on the Autism Spectrum.

Nancy Goins


Nancy is an experienced trainer, facilitator, and early childhood educator that has worked in preschool special education, Head Start, early intervention, infant mental health for over 25 years. Nancy currently provides high quality professional learning and ongoing support.

Becky Haynes

Becky is a behavior analyst, educator, and facilitator, who has worked in school, home, and clinical settings over the past 15 years. She currently develops and delivers high quality professional development and support.

William Hunter

University of Memphis

Dr. Hunter is a professor of SPED at the University of Memphis. He is a prolific writer and publisher of books, research articles, and chapters in special education. He is also the PI of Tennessee Tiered Support Center.

Richelle Hurtado


Richelle is an autistic BCBA who is passionate about teaching self-advocacy and autistic-affirming practices. She has her doctorate in Applied Behavior Analysis and works as an educational consultant at TRIAD.

Penny Johnson

Tennessee Center for Decision Making Support

Penny Johnson is the Program Coordinator for the TN Center for Decision-Making Support. Penny has eighteen years of diverse social service experience and ten years in private sector employment.

Mercedes Lawson


With lifelong roots intertwined in special education both professionally and personally, Mercedes Lawson has dedicated her adult years to ensuring that all students’ educational rights are honored. After receiving multiple degrees and certificates within the world of education and after supporting more than 600+ students through-out her 9 years in the classroom, Mercedes decided to leave the classroom to better help parents know their and their children’s educational rights.

Erin Maves

Transition Tennessee

Erin Maves is a project director for Transition Tennessee. Before moving to Nashville in 2018, she taught for 29 years as a special education teacher at Hudson High School in Iowa.

Diane McCluskey

Tennessee Assistive Technology Project

Diane is a pediatric occupational therapist and RESNA-certified AT Specialist. She began working with AT in the educational setting in 2004 and joined the Tennessee AT Project team in 2023.

Dr. Haley Richardson

Department of Education

Jill Sublett

Tennessee Assistive Technology Project

Jill managed the AT library for a technology access center for five years before joining the Tennessee AT Project team. She designed, developed, and now manages the new AT lending library that supports districts across Tennessee.

Kevin Wright

Vocational Rehabilitation

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